collabs - 03.06.2020

Find Us Everywhere - The Hambledon, Winchester UK

Quiz time! Q: What do Europe’s largest Gothic cathedral, Alexa Chung and Colin Firth have in common? A: Winchester! Above all though, Winchester is home to The Hambledon, one of our favourite retailers. An excellent boutique for women and men, offering a carefully curated selection of independent brands from around the world, not limited to clothing


wordsBjorn Dossche
picturesVictoria Nossent

The Hambledon’s founder Victoria

Harriette, Amy & Lottie

Can you introduce yourself and the rest of the team briefly?
This will be part introduction, part indication that we’re all Bellerose fans through and through (laughs). I’m Victoria, founding director and buyer (Poker jeans!). Please meet Lucy, buyer, co-director (Always in her Edel jacket and a Hoek dress); Finn, digital manager (Harare coat); Rob, menswear manager (Vluz tee); Amy, photographer (Datti knit); Harriett, visual merchandiser (Absolutely every piece in this current collection, she’s your biggest fan!); Annie, womenswear sales (Datair knit); Lottie, womenswear sales (Dato knit); Lara, homeware sales (Ditto Dato!); Richard, web coordinator (Vlux tee); Bella, web and womenswear (Loud jacket).

So, how and why did it all begin for the Hambledon?
I was almost literally born into retail. My mum had a shop and took me to work in a basket when I was 6 weeks old. I’ve done some other things along the way, but I came back to shop keeping 20 years ago when we opened The Hambledon.

What’s the Hambledon spirit?
I hope our ethos is about genuinely loving the job. We really just want to feel proud to sell lovely things to lovely people in a lovely space.

The Hambledon is a must visit shopping spot in Winchester, what makes you guys special? Why do people visit and why do they come back? 
We’re very excited about finding beautiful things and I think that enthusiasm is infectious. We’re also a little bit flighty. We’re constantly on the hunt for the new and unusual and we love putting our collections together as a kind of story. There is always something fresh to see. And we love visual merchandising and the theatre of retail. 

How do you select the brands/products you sell? What do you look for?
We have a pretty clear sense of ourselves so we’re partly looking for things we love but we’re also looking for brands which are just a little bit under the radar and not hugely available.

How important is the ethical and sustainable aspect of a brand to you?
It’s increasingly important both to us and our customers. It isn’t yet the principle driver in our choices but it’s definitely a factor. Fundamentally the clothes still have to be beautiful and covetable.

How is Bellerose a good match for your stores?
Bellerose is almost a house brand for us. It is one of those collections that manages to be both consistently good and reassuringly innovative season after season. Our customers are looking for interesting, wearable clothes. They acknowledge, understand and enjoy fashion but aren’t slavish to trends. I think Bellerose perfectly encapsulates that approach.

What are the 3 words that come to your mind when you hear the brand name Bellerose?
Loved by all!

You guys have been open for 20 years now. What motivates you to keep going? What’s the funnest part about running the store?
 Honestly, it’s the best job in the world. I love finding new stuff. I’m quite nosy and interested in people. I like the drama of visual merchandising. I like to research and write and talk about retail. And I’m quite competitive. It lets me do all of those things. And I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by a group of brilliant colleagues who do their jobs extremely well and with a great deal of passion and care. I think having a great team has become one of the nicest things.

Things have definitely changed throughout those years, what would you point out as the biggest changes? 
Obviously much of traditional retail is going through a difficult time at the moment but I think, and hope, that some of these structural changes will create a space for good independent retailers to thrive. On a more personal note I think we’ve become more confident and bullish over the years and it has enabled us to have a bit more fun.

Most of our readers may not know much about Winchester, what should they know?
Winchester is a cathedral city in the South of England, about an hour from London. Its Roman name was Venta Belgarum. It was once the capital city of England. King Alfred died here. Jane Austen lived here. And it’s a really lovely place to live and work.

What do you love about your city? Can you share your 5 favourite spots in Winchester with us?
Go and see the 13th century tiles in the retro choir of the cathedral 

Check out the Antony Gormley in the crypt (particularly if it is flooded)

Take a walk round the Water Meadows and have coffee at the Bike Hub café

See a movie at one of Cabinet Rooms tiny and perfectly formed screenings

Browse the shelves at P & G Wells, an amazing local bookshop

Thank you, Victoria!

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